North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s secret daughter has been seen for the first time at a national event, experts in China believe.
The girl – tentatively identified as Kim Ju-ae – appeared on stage at North Korea’s National Day celebrations earlier this month.
She was one of several children performing a song for Kim Jong-un and his wife, Ri Sol-ju, but something about her in particular stood out to experts.
Writing under the alias Samhero, one analyst on the InDPRK blog noted how Ri Sol-ju reaches for this particular girl at the end of the show.
She places her hand on the child’s back and is seen talking to her personally, only breaking off when she needs to move another girl out of her husband’s path.
And when the other children huddle around Kim Jong-un, jumping with excitement, she appears calmer, even grabbing another girl’s arm to hold her back when she follows him too closely.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s secret daughter has been seen for the first time at a national event, experts in China believe
And when the other children huddle around Kim Jong-un, jumping with excitement, she appears calmer, even grabbing another girl’s arm to hold her back when she follows him too closely
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, and his wife Ri Sol Ju, left, watch a performance during a celebration marking the nation’s 74th anniversary in Pyongyang, North Korea, on September 8
The analyst saw further clues during the actual performance itself: the camera focuses on her as the singing begins, lingering for several seconds, before returning to her again and again.
Meanwhile, her appearance stands out too – she is the only girl wearing her hair down, and the only one donning white socks.
Furthermore, the Kims themselves seem very invested in the performance – at one point the camera cuts directly from the beaming first family to a close-up of the girl.
At times, we can even glance the tyrant’s sister, Kim Yo-jong, apparently wiping away tears.
Others have noted that the girl performed just once, when the tyrant was in attendance – apparently missing a repeat performance the following night.
Michael Madden, an expert on the North Korean elite, said Kim’s daughter would be of a similar age to the girl in question.
He said: ‘She would be close to ten years old in 2022 which is about the age of the girl shown in state media footage.’
Writing under the alias Samhero, one analyst on the InDPRK blog noted how Ri Sol-ju reaches for this particular girl at the end of the show. She places her hand on the child’s back and is seen talking to her personally, only breaking off when she needs to move another girl out of her husband’s path
The analyst saw further clues during the actual performance itself: the camera focuses on her as the singing begins, lingering for several seconds, before returning to her again and again
He added that Ri Sol-ju had herself made multiple TV appearances before she was ever identified as part of the first family.
‘Madame Ri appeared on North Korean television on several occasions as a singer, sometimes as a soloist, at concerts,’ he said.
‘These appearances occurred prior to her July 2012 identification as Kim Jong-un’s wife.’
But he emphasised that making his daughter too public could carry risks for Kim.
Mr Madden said: ‘When Kim Jong-un was a child and teenager, he was kept cloistered from all but the top North Korean elites who had close family or personal relationships to his father.
‘North Korean elites could not interact with him or his siblings without his father’s approval.
‘Potential adversaries among North Korean elites, if aware of the identities of the leader’s children, could present a vulnerability.
‘Instead of fomenting a coup or insurrection against the political leadership, the children could be kidnapped or harmed as a means of attaining leverage over the leader.
The girl (right) was one of several children performing a song for Kim Jong-un and his wife, Ri Sol-ju, but something about her in particular stood out to experts
‘This applied to Kim Jong-un when he was growing and could very well apply to his own children.’
He added: ‘This dynamic reduces the likelihood he would allow his children to show up on state television, even inter alia.’
Mr Madden, a fellow of The Stimson Center in Washington DC who also runs the North Korea Leadership Watch website, explained that there were likely more Kim children too.
The existence of Kim Ju-ae was confirmed by basketball star Dennis Rodman who visited Kim Jong-un in 2013, but others have long been rumoured.
Mr Madden said: ‘The current rumours intelligence about the children of Kim Jong-un says that he has three children, two daughters and one son.
‘That said, the information feeds about his children are contradictory and speculative.
‘Some information about their children derives from observation of state media photos in which Madame Ri appears to be pregnant.’
North Korea’s ruling regime is notoriously tight-lipped about its first family.
Kim Jong-un himself was only made known to his countrymen in 2010, the year before the death of his father and predecessor, Kim Jong-il.
There’s also growing speculation that a mysterious woman seen following the dictator recently is his half sister, Kim Sol-song.
Who is Ri Sol-ju? Former singer and cheerleader who had to take a six-month course before becoming Kim Jong-un’s wife
By Chris Pleasance for MailOnline
Ri Sol-ju has been pictured for years accompanying her husband Kim Jong-Un on state visits – but just who is the dictator’s wife?
Very little is known about Ri, including her exact age, who her parents are and what her life was like before marrying Kim.
Even her name remains a mystery, as observers believe Ri is actually a pseudonym designed to keep her life before marriage a secret.
Kim Jong-un visited China this week alongside his seldom-seen wife, Ri Sol-ju. Little is known about her, including her age, who her parents are, and whether Ri is even her real name
It is widely believed that Ri was a singer before meeting Kim, and may have once been part of a North Korean cheerleading squad that visited the 2005 Asian Athletics Championships
Ri and Kim met with Chinese leader Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan in Beijing this week in his first foreign visit as Supreme Leader
She was first pictured on Kim’s arm in 2012 at a concert and North Korea subsequently confirmed she was Kim’s wife, but said nothing else about her.
She then appeared with him multiple times between 2012 and 2014 before largely disappearing from public view until recently, when her presence became much more pronounced.
Sources speaking in the South Korean media when she was first identified said she is a former cheerleader and singer, and gave her date of birth as some time between 1985 and 1989.
She was said to have been pictured in 2005 visiting South Korea during the Asian Athletics Championships as part of the North Korean cheerleading squad.
Others said she was a singer with the Unhasu orchestra who may have performed for Kim and his father, Kim Jong-il, during a New Year concert in 2010.
‘There is a possibility Jong-un chose her as his wife after seeing her at the concert hall,’ the Chosun Ilbo newspaper said at the time.
Ri was first seen with Kim in 2012 at a concert and then a water park (pictured). North Korean media initially said nothing about her before confirming she was his wife
Ri (pictured in 2012) is believed to have married Kim in 2009 or 2010 and likely gave birth to their first child soon afterwards
We know Kim and Ri have a second child, named Ju-ae, because the information was given away by Dennis Rodman in an interview. They are also rumored to have a third
There was a North Korean singer by the name of Ri Sol-ju, the BBC reported, but it has never been confirmed if she and Ki’ms wife are the same person.
South Korean security services agree that she is a singer, but say her name is actually Hyon Song-wol and was changed after marriage.
Elsewhere, the BBC reported that Ri was hastily married to Kim in 2009 as part of a succession plan drawn up by Kim Jong-il after he suffered a stroke.
It is believed she gave birth to their first child the following year with subsequent births taking place in 2013 and possibly in 2016, after she disappeared from public.
According to US basketball star Dennis Rodman, who is an unlikely friend of Kim, their middle child is called Ju-ae, after he let the information slip in an interview.
Nothing is known about the other children.
Ri was often pictured with Kim between 2012 and 2014 (above) but then disappeared from view, causing speculation of another pregnancy
Ri has appeared in public several times recently, including during a parade in Pyongyang to mark the found of the country’s military
Before marrying Kim, Ri was reportedly sent to Kim Il-sung University, the country’s most prestigious, to study a six-month course in being the first lady.
It has also been reported that she obtained a science degree from the same university years earlier.
According to AFP Ri was born in the northeastern province of North Hamkyong to an academic father and a doctor mother.
That would make her part of the political elite, since such positions are reserved only for those who are most loyal to the regime.
She is also said to be related to Ri Pyong-chol, a former air force general and close advisor of Kim Jong-un.
Ri is also known for her love of fine fashion, which is unusual in North Korea.
When she was first described by the country’s press she was said to be wearing ‘a trim black suit in the Chanel tradition’ and once gifted a Dior bag to Kenji Fujimoto, Kim Jong-il’s sushi chef.
Fujimoto claimed to have met her and described her as ‘just so charming… I cannot describe her voice, it’s so soft…’.
South Korean diplomats who traveled to the North for talks with Kim Jong-un recently said Ri joined him at the negotiating table.
They said the pair were an affectionate couple and ‘seemed equal’.